In Their Sleep DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
Nikita's Anne Parillaud in a tale of guilt-ridden terror...
While Hollywood has been falling over itself to churn out sequels, reboots and reinventions for the last few years, France has instead been quietly but effectively producing original fare that is not only very well-written, but genuinely thought-provoking.
Notable examples of this new wave of French cinema - which arguably kicked off with Alexandre Aja's divisive Haute Tension (2003) and Gasper Noé’s Irreversible (2002) - have been Ils (2006), Martyrs (2008), Inside (2007) and Frontière(s) (2007), the latter two produced by French company BR Films, who are behind the latest Gallic chiller In Their Sleep.
Written and directed by siblings Caroline Du Potet and Eric Du Potet, their debut feature for Frontière(s) producer Rodolphe Guglielmi shares many of the signature traits of these films, effectively combining an isolated setting with characters who may not be quite what they initially appear, and the general feeling for much of their running times of 'just what the hell is going on here?'
Starring Anne Parillaud, best known for her titular role in 1990's superb La Femme Nikita (later remade as The Assassin with Bridget Fonda, and subsequently turned into an ongoing TV series), Arthur Dupont and Thierry Fremont, In Their Sleep opens with the apparent suicide of Sarah's (Parillaud) teenage son, who falls from his first floor bedroom window at the remote country house that her husband is renovating onto a number of nasty, ill-placed steel rods.
A year later (but not exactly a year, it's not that kind of movie), suffering from insomnia and sent home from her nursing job for making a near-fatal mistake in a patient's dosage, Sarah is driving along a stretch of woodland road when suddenly a young man runs out of the trees into the path of her car, in a scene reminiscent of the dreadful Linda Hamilton vehicle Children of the Corn.
Tending to him in the road, Sarah attempts to flag down a car that appears on the horizon, only to have the youth jump up and demand that she drive off immediately, clearly terrified by whoever is behind the wheel. The car pursues them and draws level, the driver shining a torch into the car to identify Sarah and the young man (Arthur, played by Dupont), before inexplicably speeding off ahead of them into the distance.
Opting to take Arthur back to her house, which is closer than the hospital, and where she now lives alone, her husband having left to return to the city, he tells her that the man in the car was a burglar who he disturbed in his home, and that wanted to kill Arthur because he'd seen his face. Hence, he'd been running away from him when he darted out into the road and was struck by Sarah.
To say much more is to give the game away, but suffice to say, the man turns up and seems to be intent on killing Arthur, and anyone who gets in his way, setting the scene for a superbly-written game of cat and mouse that builds not so much to a climax as a conclusion, but is no less effective for it.
In common with Spanish cerebral thriller Fermat's Room, In Their Sleep successfully plays with the film's timeline as it continually revisits certain scenes from different perspectives to gradually reveal the whole - occasionally surprising - picture to the audience, eventually coming full circle to the initially perplexing opening shot of a woman apparently reclining in the grass which wouldn't have looked out of place in director John McNaughton's classic Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), and for good reason.
Ultimately, In Their Sleep will more than satisfy fans of the recent output of French horror/thriller cinema, but is also clever enough to be worth a look for anybody who likes to pay attention to and engage with a movie.
Just a trailer, but worth a look after you've seen the film as a good example of how to misdirect an audience.
4 stars out of 5
In Their Sleep is released on the 14th of February 2011
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.